“Meh, good enough.”
This is an appropriate response to many things, like when you clean the visible half of the room to prepare for a Zoom meeting or miss a spot mowing the lawn. But it is not how you should treat your website.
With so many nonprofits operating on limited time, budgets, and expertise, design often seems to drop down on the list of priorities. That is because there is a misconception that design is only about making things look good when it in fact goes way beyond curb appeal.
The design of your website affects nearly every aspect of your nonprofit, especially in today’s climate. It touches your fundraising and your media reach, your volunteers and your clients. This is especially true of millennials and Gen X-ers who have no tolerance for slow or poorly maintained sites. Potential donors and volunteers could be turning around as soon as they walk through the virtual door if you’re not staying on top of the ever-changing web design industry.
Builds Your Credibility
Imagine you call someone to repair your furnace. He shows up in a rusty ol’ SUV and walks up to your house in sweatpants. Do you trust him or his abilities? Now, imagine a professional with a branded truck and a uniform with his name on it. You’d probably feel better doing business with the second one, right?
Nonprofit web design is the same. It is the way people see your organization and how they judge your authority on the matter and trustworthiness to tackle it. A functional and well-designed website starts the user journey off on the right foot.
While we’re talking about credibility, a quick way to lose it all is to have the wrong contact information. Is your phone number and address correct? Are the email addresses linked for ease? Do all forms go to an active account? Volunteers, clients, and even media outlets will need that information to help you spread and fulfill your mission.
Design is more than just appearances though. There is a whole world of retail psychology that looks at how consumers are influenced by their store experience. Grocery and department stores are set up to get shoppers to go deeper in the store and (hopefully) buy more. There is no reason why your nonprofit website can’t do the same.
When it comes to designing your nonprofit website, you need to encourage your supporters to take action. You need to present them with an intuitive path to get involved – learning more, donating, volunteering, sharing your message, etc. And not only do these need to be present on the home page, but on every page of your website. At the very least, you should have a “donate” button on the top of each page and a version of “Get Involved” in the menu. But don’t limit yourself. Experiment with pop-ups, chat boxes and more.
... Especially Donations
It’s a fact of nonprofits – You can’t do your amazing work without financial support, and pure altruism only goes so far. That is why it is essential that your website design guides visitors to become donors. Going back to retail psychology: Have you ever left a store because the lines were too long? Or because you couldn’t find an associate to help explain the difference between two products? The same applies to nonprofit web design. Don’t make it easy for potential donors to leave. Make it easy for them to donate.
The best way to do this is to keep it as simple as possible.
Require as few clicks and pages as possible from the “Donate” button to the donation form.
Keep the donation form short. Don’t ask unnecessary questions, and it helps to keep it all on one page.
Save it for Later
When someone is filling out the donation form, now is not the time to ask them to fill out a survey or sign up for a volunteer position.
Don’t confuse simple for boring though. Keep it branded. Keep it engaging. And if it fits for your organization, check out the possibilities for gamification. Donating can be fun and give your web design a boost.
Tells a Story
Fundraising and storytelling go hand-in-hand, and if you want your website to be an effective tool in that process, you need to make sure your design carries visitors over to the giving experience. Don’t put your visitors to work figuring out what it is you do. Tell them a story instead. Motivate them to take action by showing them the challenges of the community you serve and presenting a solution they can be a part of. Help them become emotionally invested in the cause the way your team is.
When they click a link to any page on your site, they should know where it is leading them (everyone knows what an About page is), but that doesn’t mean it should be left out of the storytelling. For example:
Does your homepage clearly say what your organization does? What is your 5 second elevator pitch on your homepage?
Do you have an “About” page that tells your history? Is it blocks of text, or do you have a video or timeline?
Programs & Services
Do you have buttons that link to more in-depth information about your programs or services? How can you help a site visitor experience them?
Don't Settle for "Meh"
Great nonprofit web design is not a luxury. It is essential for all nonprofits that want to mobilize their donors and have a greater impact.
- Shares your mission to potential supporters
- Explains your programs to those in need
- Offers information to the community about events and campaigns
- Solicits donations
- Links to your social media and generates followers
- Puts your organization in a position of authority
- Inspires others
A “meh, good enough” website will generate “meh, good enough” response from supporters. But if you show them a site that highlights the cause, illustrates your impact, and inspires visitors, then you will have a tool that is working for your mission 24 hours a day.
Do you have a meh website that deserves to be awesome?
Contact Mittun for a free assessment today.